tv [untitled] February 9, 2011 6:30pm-7:00pm PST
and are actually in the state and federal prisons as pretty appalling. being able to divert early and often is really key. the team, we have just heard -- are an elite team that knows how to work with mental-health professionals. they have developed cooperative and collaborative relationships. guests from memphis. i started to befriend a person who is involved in the v.a. program, the criminal justice program connected with the v.a. they found some great programs. just going out, just me, last night, at a meeting that angela put together, we already had
some of the agencies that should have been talking together years ago now working together. the v.a. and public defender's office sharing cases. no one can say it better than mr. "global connection" -- than mr. cochran. his understanding is interwoven within the framework of community partnerships. we hope that is coming to san francisco. fa you very much. -- thank you very much. commissioner chan: our next speaker.
>> thank you. by way of transition, i'm here from the l.a. department of health. i'm here -- glad to hear about the s.m.a.r.t. teams. i want to build on what has been mentioned here. i think resources are a big issue. i'm very gratified, the mental health association of san francisco is grad identified this initiative has come forward in a way that it -- i'm gratified this initiative has come forward in the way that it has. this is an important avenue for providing dignity. people with mental illness are treated badly, they feel badly about themselves, and are
subject to many indignities. our officers need to respond in a dignified fashion, and our people need to be treated with dignity, wherever they are in the system. most of the time people with mental illness are involved in infractions. as many of us know, people with mental illness are thrust into the criminal justice system because services are not there where they need to be. the connections are not made right. the services are not there to direct them into care instead of the forensic units. i think this is an important issue for san francisco to bring forward. i applaud it. i think the thinking in the resolution is well done and was very thorough. i want to circle back to this resource issue. i heard sam cochran say the magic word, "free."
i know we like to hear that in these budget times, but i would urge you to put the money into this, because it needs to succeed. this program is going to make a huge difference for our society. >> we will circle back to that question when we have the q & a part. >> we have next miss joe robinson who is the director of the community behavioral health. thank you for joining us tonight. >> thank you, commissioners. i am jill robinson. i am the director of public health and the community behavioral health services. i want to speak from my prior position, which was for over 25 years, the director for jail psychiatric services. i have experience from seeing the population that went to the jail.
this service, training of officers, is extremely important. to let you know, last year, jail psychiatric services saw over r5,000 individuals -- saw over 5,000 individuals that had some type of mental health issue when they entered the jail. the community mental health services saw over 25,000. so you can see -- yeah, i see you shaking your head. so 5,000 is a lot. and your officers are the ones that have an ipt action with -- have an interaction with those individuals. i have met many of your officers. through the training we have had previously, they are very good individuals, and many of them have passion for this.
many of them volunteered to take the class that was previously being taught. so you have good candidates already. let me -- i was asked by the commissioner to speak about some of the services that we have in the community. so i'll put on my new hat. there are 24 beds in our psyche emergency, which is a 24-hour service. last year there were around 63 -- 6,300 admits to that service. there is an urgent care, which is another 24-hour. these are people that may or may not -- not quite meet involuntary status. there are 12 beds for that. there is a sobering center. and another nonmedical center.
about 43 beds for that. there is a drop-in service, west side. they have hours for drop-in, but they don't go into the evening. so again, your officers do not have that available to them. you can see the evening services are limited. we do have mobile crisis, which is not a 24-hour service. it goes to 11:00 at night. one thing i will commit, if it is not me it will be someone from my staff as part of the mental health working group. i will be here for any questions you might have about the
department of public health or public health services and how we can participate in this worth while endeavor. commissioner chan: thank you for that commitment. that is very helpful inform have. -- to have. our next speaker is ms. brooks, the director of the mental health board. >> thank you, commissioners, for looking at this issue this evening, and for chief godown for a new openness in looking at the police department. my name is helena brook and i'm director of the mental health board. with a group of people from mental health, we could collaborated and created the training that existed -- we co-collaborated and created the training that existed for the past 10 years. i applaud the continuation of
training ever all the officers. the training that has been a collaborative effort between the police department and mental health has trained nearly 1,000 officers appropriately to help people with mental illness and help them get help. these don't make the front-page news. i want to emphasize that through the training from meeting the officers in the san francisco police department, we have a tremendous department that do care about the citizens of san francisco. during the past 10 years the department also funded research about the type of training and the type of calls that people get and the number of calls from people with mental illness. results show they found the training useful and led to a change in their attitude. many officers sate -- said it was the best training they have had in the police force. it helped officers identify a person and communicate with them more effectively. officers also said the training
provided them with more information on the mental health services that were available. although they were frustrated with the fact we had limited 24-hour services and that psyche emergency was often on red alert. the overwhelming majority of respondents said the training had given them useful tools to help them work with a suspected mentally ill person. the virt wall simulate -- how to talk and listen to people with mental illness, visiting our clinics, and listening to consumers sharing about their illnesses. the san francisco police department and the research has individual officers have from one to 20 interacks per shift for people with mental illness with an average of four contacts and spending about an hour to three hours a day on these contacts. plo over 10,000 mental health
related calls per year with approximately eight per day resulting in a 5150 and going to psyche emergency services. southern mission tender loin take twice as many people to psyche emergency than the rest of the city. i encourage you to work with the officers on the street to see what training they would find useful going forward. i encourage you to talk to the board of supervisors and the mayor to fund a 24-seven mobile crisis treatment team so mental health can take more of the calls to people in crisis and to request that san francisco stop cutting mental health out-patient services so that more and more people don't risk going into a crisis. we cannot ask the police to
handle more and more people going into crisis unless they have more help and more training. thank you. commissioner chan: we have jennifer johnson who is with the public defender's office behavioral health court. >> commissioner, chief godown, i want to thank you for having me with you tonight. i'm the deputy public defender assigned to behavioral health court. i'm also one of the people who was responsible for creating that program. i represent on average about 100 to 125 people at a time who have a serious mental illness and are in the criminal justice system. most of my clients, 80% or more are charged with a felony. 75% of my clibets clients have -- 75% of my clients have a diagnosis of skits freenia. -- skits frenchia.
behavioral health court, this problem has been left in the hands of a system that was not designed to deal with it. in behavioral health court i have to say proudly we have done a pretty good job. we have great outcome data that show that we are reducing recidivism dramatically. we are reducing rearrests after crimes of violence by about 54%. we're reducing jail days on average from 36 to 40 days for clients as compared to a control group, and we are saving the city and county $2.7 million a year just in both criminal justice and mental health dollars. that means they are both going down. it is wildly successful.
however, it is a little too far down the line. once they get into behavioral health court, they have gone too far. we need a solution that comes before people ever have hand cuffs placed on them. when i read this resolution today, i was thrilled. i couldn't believe it. i think that this is such an important gap that needs to be filled. along with representing my clients in behavioral health court i spend a significant amount of my time working on national public policy at the intersection of criminal health and mental justice. i provided commissioner chan with a document i've been working on which i hope eventually can be provided all of you. one of the glaring owe mations -- one of the glaring omissions is on police response to mental illness and that includes crisis
intervention training. what goes hand-in-hand is diverting people out of criminal justice before they get into it, decriminalizing people that have a mental illness. i think we're pretty clear some of the things we're doing in the system are not working. giving people citations, they end up crumpled in a pocket somewhere and they don't do any good. there are a lot of things we could be doing. in addition to training police, we need to provide police officers with alternatives so they don't have to take someone either to jail or the hospital. we need accessible alternatives that are police friendly where police can receive services voluntarily in lieu of going to jail. so the way i view this policy, as i said, i am exstatic. -- ecstatic.
i whole heartedly support what this commission is hopefully going to do. i also want to make sure that this policy fits into a broader public policy at the intersection of mental health and criminal justice. there are a lot of other things we need to do. this is an incredible start. i would like to come back to you in a couple years and tell you that my case load is down to 10. that would be a great day. i really applaud your work. thank you. commissioner chan: thank you, ms. johnson. our last speaker, but i think we will move quickly into public comment, there are many people in the audience with expert he's to share. our last speaker is mary kate conor from outreach services. s thank you for joining us. >> thank you very much, commissioners, for considering this, and for moving so quickly
on this issue. i understand taking a look at the memphis training was on the agenda, but looking at the most recent tragic shootings that happened at end of december involving people who have serious psychiatric illnesses. i was part of a working group in 1996 that was brought together by the o.c.c., by members of alternative criminal justice alternate sentencing, very much like the kinds of things that you are seeing and talking about now. we started doing this work in 1996 and put together a program called -- at that point it was called many pirc.
the psychiatric illness response club. where the person encountered was killed by the police as opposed to aided by the police. the first thing we needed to understand is there has been such a fractionalize zation between health and law enforcement. the need to take a look at the issues as behavioral issues on both sides. we spent a lot of time talking about what might work. we looked at a lot of techniques, and some of them
were pretty wild. they involved spiderman guns that put a sticky web around people, we looked at tasers. and we ruled them out, because there is a high zens of -- incidence much -- of police responding to people who do not respond to police control and then police using tasers. we came up with an identical program that memphis has, identical in 1996. we came up with it because none of the kind of tactical devices wr we're talking about were going to change anything. what seemed to be able to change things was looking at who goes into what kind of profession and why. why is it that i, a person who has 30 years of experience working with seriously mentally ill people outside of a clinical setting, not in a law facility, not in a hospital, not even in
an office. i'm talking about working with people who are homeless who have no treatment at all whatsoever and aren't even necessarily looking for treatment. so what makes the difference. why would i go into that line of work and an officer go into the line of work that they go into. it generally has to do with, as the officer on the film that you -all saw in memphis, it has to do with being touched in some way in their own lives about why people go into doing the work with mental health that they go into doing. that is not surprising that given that one in four or one in five people in this country will have an episode of mental illness in their lifetime and 1-17 people are believed to have a serious mental illness such as
scizophrenia or bipolar. so chief cochran was talking about the heart being the essence of this program, that is also what we found. that people are moved to do the right thing if there is an understanding at a much deeper level and if they are given institutional support and essentially permission. if this training program that generally falls outside of police purchase view is to be -- per view is to be adopted, the entire institution of the police department from the brass on down has to accept this is a part of daily life for police officers at this point in time. i don't think police officers should be social workers. i'm not suggesting that's what we do. what i am suggesting is that police officers have the best way to work with people who are in crisis, rather than using techniques that don't work that
often end up being lethal. there are other ways to do this. and as an advocate as well as a service provider, it is up to all of us, to me, to you-all, to also hold accountable the department of public health and specifically public health. we can talk about the lack of resources, but budget season is coming up. every year something gelts cut from the health department. the police department has threatened cuts. this year rather than fighting and sort of targeting each other's departments, because police and department of health both have large budgets, let's work together and see if there is some way that we can not punish each other's departments because of the cultural differences. that's what it comes down to. we need to shift the culture so
that people who provide services where i serve and that police officers. and it is possible to do it. i have a lot of tales to tell about working with police on the ground and how frustrating for them -- it is for them. i call the police, and i rarely call the police, and i have had officers say, i'm not going to take him to the office. they will just let him out in an hour. i will take him to jail for you, if that's what you want. no, that's not what i want. no, we're not going to do it. i can't tell you how many times i've heard that. i'm being honest with you all. officers on the ground are frustrated. those of us that work in mental health are frusstrailted. i know you all are. if we're to change this, we must work together. the resolution you-all have is
so simple, it is brilliant. please look at it and adopt it. there are changes in there that would be simple to implement. i urge you to take a look at this now and make sure that we move forward together on this before there is anymore completely senseless loss of life. thank you very much. >> thank you for your comments. [applause] commissioner chan: that concludes the formal presentation, so i toss it back to the police chief. >> before we head in there, we did ask the police officers association for their opinion regarding this. i wonder if someone would like to speak on behalf of the p.o.a. this evening.
>> good evening. my name is kevin martin. i'm the director of the police officers association. i appreciate the opportunity to talk to your body tonight. this is a very important topic we're discussing. it affects everybody. it is a community-wide concern. certainly i believe that the san francisco police officers are probably some of the finest trained officers in the country when it comes to dealing individual citizens that are in mental health crisis. we are the first responders. we probably deal with just as many individuals with mental health crises as anybody else in the field. we believe our training is second to none. it is a growing crisis. and a lot of times, the officers are frustrated, as the whole
system becomes bogged down with what can we do. certainly, we want to put our best foot forward and provide not only the community the safety that they want, but the victims that are in crisis, to get some type of refuge so that they know that there is avenues of help out there. and to consistently follow-up with these cases so that we don't have a tremendous recidivism rate. police officers are often thrust in a position where they are forlsed to -- forced to act on an accident that has already occurred. we are trained to react to an action that has taken place. we have already had a lot of training for mental health
crisis. we have had the mobile crisis units that we're working hand-in-hand, maybe two or three years ago. i walk a footbeat in downtown san francisco. i've been a police officer for 26 years. my experiences are great and many. i'm also a hostage crisis negotiator with the police department. many times the people that we deal with, we dealt with before. so i applaud everybody's efforts here. i think that the selection process for the officers that are going to be engaged in this needs to be looked at very strongly. we want officers that have experience that have been in the department for a substantial amount of time. i think it takes maybe eight inform 10 years -- eight to 10 years to define what it means to be an effective police officer. i think when we consider what's
at stake here -- and we're all stakeholders. from the outside, community, people worried about their safety, to people that are definitely affected by a mental health crisis, we are all stakeholders here. we want to put our best foot forward so we can be advocates on this issue throughout the entire spectrum. thank you very much. vice president marshall: i would
like to ask a couple questions. this resolution is a wonderful program. that's why you are here. i am both practical and a realist by nature. so i have to ask some things that sort of brought us to the table. the mental health issues in the city of san francisco are great. but what has really brought us to where we are now is -- are several i would say high-profile shootings involving those with mental illness. i can't remember the name of the woman in the position. there was everything from ans